Anyone who has faced the task of finalising the affairs of someone who has died will understand that closing down utility, insurance, subscription, telephone and financial accounts can be an arduous and complicated task. Each provider has their own set of rules and require different forms of proof. The process can be made even more confusing when it takes several calls to customer service advisors who are unsure of the rules and advice given can often be misleading and conflicting.
A UK Bereavement Standard
Cruse Bereavement Care and Settld are petitioning for a UK Bereavement Standard that would help to alleviate the trauma that grieving families go through when they have to make several calls to numerous utility and other service providers to close accounts of those who have died.
The Bereavement Standard would establish:
- An agreed time frame for companies to respond to bereavement enquiries and settle outstanding customer balances.
- A bereavement customer care email channel for each company, to directly handle such cases and avoid customers waiting on calls.
- The standardisation of paperwork needed to close an account, with a view to accepting digital documents whenever possible.
Steven Wibberly, CEO of Cruse Bereavement Care added:
“In the aftermath of a close relative’s death, people should be able to spend time with their families grieving, rather than spending hours doing admin.
Last year, we launched our ‘Bereaved Customers First’ campaign which aims to reduce the emotional burden bereaved people face when contacting businesses regarding the death of someone. It is vital companies are compassionate and simplify their processes to ensure they are fit for purpose and are not causing their bereaved customers further distress, at an already very difficult time.
Hope for the Future
The introduction of a Bereavement Standard is an idea that many service providers are behind. New company Settld, which has created an online account closure service after being awarded a UK Government COVID-19 grant, hosted a roundtable meeting with more than 30 representatives from more than a dozen utility companies and other stakeholders. All parties are willing to discuss how a Bereavement Standard could be implemented.
To close government accounts, personal representatives may use the ‘Tell us Once’ service while the ‘Death Notification Service‘ informs most banks of the death, however there is no service which deals with all other accounts. A Bereavement Standard would be one step towards simplifying the process whilst companies like Settld are moving the process one step closer to the ‘Tell Us Once’ system.
If you would like to support the petition for the Bereavement Standard visit Change.org to sign the petition which, at the time of writing, had received support from 67000 people.